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Why One Athlete Chose Division III Washington University

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(Photo courtesy of Washington University)

Tami Wong is a sophomore utility player who attends Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. After getting her freshman season taken away due to COVID-19, Wong is eager and anxious to get back on the field with her teammates.

Taking the lessons she’s learned from balancing softball and school as a Division III student-athlete, Wong discussed her college experience thus far with Softball America.

See SA's full interview with Wong below.

Softball America: What attracted you to Washington University and Division III softball?

Tami Wong: WashU had always been on my radar because of their amazing academics, and when I decided that I wanted to play softball in college, they were one of my top choices instantly. What initially attracted me was their academic reputation, and I just got really lucky that their athletic program is amazing too. I fell in love with the beautiful campus when I went on my visit, and the rest is really history.

SA: What is your intended major, and what do you plan on doing post graduation?

TW: I am intending to major in Neuroscience and minor in Psychology and Medical Humanities, and I am planning on attending dental school upon graduation.

SA: Going into an academically challenging school, were you concerned about balancing softball and school work?

TW: Oh, for sure. Especially at a school as academically rigorous as WashU is, it was a huge concern going into my freshman year. I had already struggled with balancing academics and athletics in high school, so I was a little bit worried that college would be like that except just on steroids.

From my experiences here, I would say that that description is definitely accurate though, but I really wouldn't trade it for the world. I'm lucky that I get to play the sport that I love while getting an amazing education from an amazing institution. Everything that I have experienced and will experience is worth the hours of sleep that I lose.

SA: During your freshman year, how did you successfully balance school, softball and time for yourself?

TW: I would say that prioritizing and having self-control were huge for me. There were definitely times when I would want to go out with my friends, but I knew that I would have to do work instead. It was also the balance of knowing when to take a break and knowing when productive work turned into unproductive yawning. I also think that being in outside organizations really helped me find a good balance between school and softball because, at times, you just need a break. These outside clubs were my outlet and helped me relax and take my mind off of the stress.

SA: What has been the most challenging part of being a college athlete at an academically rigorous institution?

TW: I would say the most challenging part has to be balancing my time. One softball practice takes a good chunk of your day away, and you have to be able to plan accordingly to not let that affect your schoolwork. It's also hard to get enough sleep, which was really tough on both my mental and my physical health last year. I have been trying to improve on that aspect, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do.

Another personally challenging aspect is trying to live up to the expectations I have for myself. It's hard to be kind to yourself and remember that college is supposed to be hard and it is normal to struggle, and to remember to not let that affect your performance on the field, too.

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